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Best Places to see The Hollywood Sign

Best Places to see The Hollywood Sign

Best Places to see The Hollywood Sign

July 21, 2012 // In California

The Hollywood Sign can be seen from all over the Los Angeles area, but you’re looking for the money shot. Here are some of the best spots to experience those iconic letters, listed from farthest to the closest.

Hollywood & Highland Center

6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

Everyone’s gotta experience it at least once. It’s the ultimate tourist trap;  a hot mess of distracted pedestrians, movie characters, flashing lights, breakdancers, megaphones and overpriced swag. But it’s a great place to hit up several Hollywood landmarks all within a few blocks, grab a cupcake and get the eff outta there under 2 hours. For the best view of the sign, walk through the courtyard to the back of the shopping center. Follow “The Road to Hollywood” mosaic sidewalk to the bed statue, which overlooks a perfectly palm-tree framed shot of the Sign.

$2 parking in the heart of Hollywood?! Now that’s even crazier than Fat Captain America and the Jack Sparrow Twins you’ll encounter up on the Walk of Fame. Entrances for self-parking under Hollywood & Highland Center are located on Highland Ave and Orange Drive. It’s $2 for up to 2 hours with validation from participating shops, which include all of the stores within the Center. So grab a coffee before you head back down to your car and save $$$!

 

Hollywood Bowl Overlook | Mulholland Scenic Corridor

7036 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles

Mulholland Drive itself makes for a nice Sunday drive, and this overlook is an easy pit stop along the way. Near the popular Runyon Canyon, it overlooks downtown Los Angeles and The Hollywood Sign, made complete with mini-history lesson plaques. There are only a handful of designated parking spaces – most likely you’ll have to swing off onto the side of the road and huff it up the hill to the stairs. Watch out for fast cars coming around the bend and tour vans!

 

Griffith Park Observatory

2800 East Observatory Rd, Los Angeles

I’m including this on The Best List only because everyone else seems to think it’s one of the best spots. However – let me give you the real deal. Parking at the Observatory is atrocious and the museum itself is crowded. It’s free, but the lot fills up before noon daily (yes, even weekdays). Most likely you’ll end up parallel parking somewhere on the very long hill that leads up to the Observatory. Sometimes it’s like rush hour trying to get out of Griffith Park and the whole place reeks of brake fluid.

Now, if observatories are your thing (which obviously they are not mine!), then by all means it’s worth the trip. After all, the Griffith Observatory is another local landmark, so this could be a two-birds-one-stone trip. But if you’re just going up to see the sign, I honestly think there are easier and closer ways.

All grumbling aside, if you want to feel like a real local, get in a short hike while you’re up there. Access to the popular Mt. Hollywood Trail begins at the parking lot. It takes about an hour for a 3-mile round trip hike to the summit of Mt. Hollywood (that’s including time for pictures and slow pokes).  For those of you that tremble at words like “hike” and “summit,” don’t go running back to your cars just yet. This “walk in the park” is part of Griffith Park’s many trails, which I make fun of for being more like dirt sidewalks. It’s a gradual climb that I’ve seen some even do in heels (why?!?), with an unobscured view of The Sign and all it’s glory at a “soaring” 1,619 feet… see, that’s not so bad, is it? Though, I gotta warn you – once you get to the top it looks more like “Holly-woo!” due to the mountain’s angle. Check out Dan’s Hiking Pages for trail directions!

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Lake Hollywood Dog Park

3000 Canyon Lake Drive, Hollywood

I think this is the best way to see the Hollywood Sign. It’s easy to get to, a low traffic area, has free parking, and is pretty darn close!

Begin by turning onto Lake Hollywood Drive off of Barham Blvd. There is a yellow road sign that reads “No Hollywood Sign Access” at this intersection. This sign is a LIAR. Ignore it.

If you’re lucky, you’ll end up behind one of the local convertible tour vans that often take this route, and can follow them. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay careful attention to the street signs throughout the residential area, as there are lots of twists and turns. Stay on Lake Hollywood Drive, go around the reservoir and make a left on Tahoe Drive. Turn right onto Canyon Lake Drive. Parallel park anywhere on the hill. The dogpark is on your left, and a popular lookout is at the top of the hill.

 

Mt. Lee Dr. & Deronda Dr.

Mt. Lee Dr. & Deronda Dr., Los Angeles

THIS IS THE CLOSEST YOU WILL GET TO THE FRONT OF THE SIGN.

There are two ways to get here. Hiking is the standard way. Driving is the not-so-standard, perhaps illegal way. Both get you to the same ending point. I’ll leave it up to you.

Option 1: Hollyridge Trail to Mt. Lee Dr.

3400 N. Beachwood Dr, Los Angeles (This is the address for Sunset Ranch Horse Stables, just down the road from the trail’s parking lot)

Another easy hike in Griffith Park. Use this HollywoodSignTrip.com Trail Guide *BUT* .. you’re going to go rouge at the split in the road. Instead of turning right and going up the hill like everyone else, you’re going to turn left, meandering down until you hit the no trespassing gate and the money shot.

Option 2: GPS residential adventure

Plug the intersection above into you GPS and get ready for a twisty ascent through the Hollywood Hills. There will be lots of second guessing. Is this a one way street? Are we going down someone’s driveway? Can we park here? Are we trespassing?  You’ll reach the end of Deronda Dr. and a gate with several very clear messages. To the left of the gate is a white archway and star-lined path that leads up the money shot.

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Behind the Sign

There are two ways to get here, and both require a slow uphill pilgrimage for an extended period of time. Finally reaching the top can have euphoric effects… or maybe that’s just the radiation from all of the cellular towers and satellite dishes also at the top. Either way, I literally saw a guy scream “OH MY GOD!” in relief and throw his body into the chain link fence. Just don’t hop the fence, or the police will be there in seconds via helicopter. Don’t think they won’t see you – it’s a daily occurrence. You’ve been on video surveillance for the last mile.

If you want to rough it:

The Tree of Knowledge/Burbank Peak/Mt. Lee Hike
Lake Hollywood Dr. & Wonder View Dr., Hollywood
Check out Dan’s Hiking Pagesfor a great trail guide!

If you prefer pavement:

Hollyridge Trail to Mt. Lee Dr.
3400 N. Beachwood Dr, Los Angeles (This is the address for Sunset Ranch Horse Stables, just down the road from the trail’s parking lot)
Check out the HollywoodSignTrip.com Trail Guide!

 

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